How to improve your video projects with 4 key hires (Behind Deidox)
This is the first in a series of posts we will be doing that share some tips and insights on how to make better low budget video projects, specifically referencing the process we’ve used in the Deidox films. The main tip for this post is simple - find people who are more talented than you are and convince them to work with you.
For Deidox we were able to bring on four people for key positions. Could we have done all this work on our own? Yes, but the results would not have been as good. These are people who specialize in what they’re doing, and we feel their talent shines through in the final Deidox films.
1) Hire a Director of Photography (or “cinematographer” if you’re British) - On the Deidox shoots we always use a DP. In true documentary filmmaking the story is being discovered as the shoot unfolds. Having a DP frees the director and producer up to focus more on story.
We shoot the Deidox films with a crew of three – Director (Brent), Producer (Dave), Director of Photography (John). Any more people would hinder our ability to be unobtrusive. Any less people and the end quality would suffer. The DP is able to focus on 1) getting the shots the director needs, 2) coming up with new creative ideas, and 3) making everything as visually interesting/appropriate as possible. It is the director’s responsibility to effectively think through what he needs and then to communicate it to the DP. It’s a very collaborative process in which the director and DP do a dance in which they balance their attention between what is being filmed and what still needs to be filmed in the future. (If our shooting process is interesting to anyone we can cover it in a future blog post. Just let us know.). Occasionally when we need to shoot with two cameras (like when Robert was with a patient), Brent will shoot the B camera.
The Deidox director of photography is John Harrison. www.blueskyhill.com
2) Hire an editor – Technically it is possible for us to edit all the Deidox films ourselves (Example: We could just lock Brent into a room until he’s done). However, for unscripted stories on this scale, hiring an editor is a huge benefit.
For Lindsay’s 5 minute film we had over 10 hours of footage. It takes a large amount of work to cut that down to a 5 minute piece. If Brent was both directing and editing then his objectivity would likely be lost when we’re only halfway through the editing process. Filmmaking is a lot of small decisions, and after 40+ hours of watching through footage, pulling selex (clips), and cutting sequences together Brent would be too deep into the film to make his best creative decisions through the rest of the process. This is why we use an editor on Deidox. It allows us to give notes and overall guidance along the way.
Actually, even with this process Brent and Jordan both often end up being “too deep into the film” when it’s about 90% done. This is when we bring Dave, the producer, in to bring what he likes to call “constructive criticism” but often feels more like a sledgehammer. A sledgehammer of reason. In the end it’s a collaborative effort that would not be possible without hiring a dedicated editor.
The Deidox editor is Jordan Innes.
3) Hire a composer – The proper music is key in conveying emotion and making a video come together, and a talented composer is the person to do this. If the music over-the-top the music can make the video cheesy. Too little and you may not convey enough emotion to make the video powerful.
(Side note: It is also possible to license music for use. We sometimes do this, but when you’re selling videos then it gets pretty complicated and expensive depending on how big the band is. Plus it’s difficult to find instrumental music that fits correctly unless the band is called Explosions in the Sky. But good luck trying to get legal clearance to use their music.)
Our Deidox composer is Joshua Myers. www.joshuamyers.com
The Deidox colorist is Jeremiah Belt. www.jeremiahbelt.com
Have a behind the scenes question for us about filmmaking or the Deidox process? Got an idea for a “Behind Deidox” post? Send it over to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “BEHIND DEIDOX”.